Out of the Comfort Zone
“Good day, Miss Lulu! I’m Tricia.”
This is where the story begins, the very first message between me and Teacher Tricia.
I’m Lulu Tan, this is my 8th month working as a foreign teacher coordinator in Taoyuan City. My first teacher is from South Africa and she worked in Taiwan before, so I wasn’t very nervous during the process. Teacher Tricia is the second teacher I collaborate with and she’s from the Philippines. However, that was my very first time dealing with documents for MECO and shipping through FedEx; everything was so new to me and it felt like I was applying to my dream school, being very cautious during every step.
Tricia is very active, thoughtful and patient. She always responded to my question or need immediately, which also sped up the application. She always calls me “Miss” and I know that’s a way of being polite. Until today, I’m still not used to that!
(The first day of moving in her apartment)
During the process, there were definitely difficulties: TECO was so busy that they seldom picked up Tricia’s call; we had a hard time finding a quarantine hotel because the date was close; the accommodation options around the main school were few. But we conquered all of them.
“Do you have any friends from the Philippines? If you want something from the Philippines or pasalubong just tell me!” Sometimes I doubted myself and felt anxious if I could successfully help Tricia come to Taiwan, that’s why I was touched by her words. According to Tricia, “pasalubong” means something that people bring for their friends or beloved ones.
Finally, she got on the plane and started her journey in Taiwan.
“Oh my god, you’re only 24? Even younger than me!”
I picked her up after her quarantine and it was a sunny day. Although I already knew her face, I was still kind of nervous. I asked her to sit next to me so I could talk to her while driving. During the conversation, I got to know her more: Her previous job was a private hired SPED teacher, so she had to take a bus or taxi to student's house; some of her students couldn’t control themselves or their temper, so she cut her hair short to prevent them from pulling her hair; surprisingly, the scars on her arm were caused by her student; she’s the only child of her family, so her mother is extremely protective.
“I’m 27, but I still have a curfew, and I never sleepover at my friend’s house.”
“But if your mother was that protective, then how did she agree with you working abroad?” I was both surprised and confused by her words.
“I didn’t tell her.”
“What?!” I almost hit the breaks.
“I mean, I sent the application first without telling her. Document preparation and the interview video…Everything happened quietly. I already had the offer when she found out.” She explained.
I laughed. This girl is not only gentle but also brave.
I asked about the motivation for her becoming a SPED teacher. She said that among her family members, occupation never repeated. She wanted to be a lawyer at the time, but one of her relatives was already one. Between doctor and teacher, she decided to jump into education because she’s afraid of blood.
“Then why did you leave SPED education?”
“I would like to challenge myself with a new task, as a SPED teacher, we could only teach one or two students at one time. I want to try for a bigger class.” She said, “ I like to be a SPED teacher, although these students were special…When I saw them improving, I felt joy and a sense of accomplishment. It’s actually hard to leave them.”
At that moment I was touched by her words again. There are a thousand reasons to become a teacher, each of them is precious and deserves respect. She chose a difficult road, but the road has made her a better, stronger person. It was also the moment I realized that she would do great as the new teacher at this school.
“Feels like you raised them, right?”
Today is November 16th, it has been three months since Teacher Tricia arrived. Her two schools were so happy to have her around as were her students. She got a brand new bicycle as a gift and she learned how to ride a bike in just two weeks!
(Taoyuan Bilingual Carnival selfies of Teacher Tricia, directors from two schools and the school’s English teacher)
(Principal of Chiwen Elementary School gave Teacher Tricia the new bicycle on the morning assembly)
The conversation between us is still fresh and memorable to me and I would like to share this story with all of you. To me, she’s great, and I believe that she will keep her enthusiasm all the way. I will also do my best to accompany her during the journey!
(Taoyuan Bilingual Carnival selfies of me and Teacher Tricia)
Shared by Coordinator LuLu Tang